It has been a fairly mixed decade for Galatasaray and in recent years the instability and changes in the balance of power in Turkish Football has been painful viewing for even the most loyal of fans.
The next decade will present a number of new challenges to Cim Bom with the club suffering from the reckless spending of the late 90s. Galatasaray will move to a new 53,000 all-seater stadium which will see the end of their days at the symbolic Ali Sami Yen which the club played in for over 30 years. With the Turkish government keen on hosting an International football tournament, Galatasaray have been one of the clubs to reap rewards from a number of new modern stadiums being built across the country. The naming rights were sold to Turk Telecom for over £10m over 10 years and extra investment will be made through areas of the purchased land being sold off to other Turkish companies.
The area around the ground has been renamed to Aslantepe which means 'Lion Hill' with the Lion being the symbol of Galatasaray.
A wind of change has swept through Turkish football in the last few seasons. In 52 years of the Turkish SuperLig, only four teams had ever won the competition with the trophy moving back-and-forth between the three dominant Istanbul clubs. The only team to upset that dominance was Trabzonspor who enjoyed excellent success in the late 70s and early 80s where they picked up 6 SuperLig crowns.
The balance of power shifted even further when Sivasspor finished just 5 points behind Besiktas in the 2008-2009 season. Finally, a fifth team would get its hands on the SuperLig trophy when Bursaspor came from absolutely nowhere to win the league on a pulsating final day decider between Bursaspor and Fenerbahce. 'The Green Crocodiles' from Turkey's fourth largest city defied all the odds under Ertugul Saglam to beat Besiktas 2-1 on the final day to become just the second side from outside Istanbul to become champions.
This season has been one to forget so far for Galatasaray and they sit in an embarrassing 9th position with just seven victories all season. Chairman Adnan Polat was forced into sacking Frank Rijkaard after significant pressure from supporters following a home defeat to Ankaragucu. Gheorghe Hagi, the greatest foreigner to play in Turkish football, was Rijkaard's successor and signed an 18-month contract in October. The appointment got an instant reaction from the Galatasaray players who achieved a respectable draw away to bitter rivals Fenerbahce just 48 hours later. The positive impact of Hagi's appointment did not last long with two defeats in just 3 days against Trabzonspor and Manisaspor. The former currently lead the SuperLig by 5 points at the halfway stage with Buraspor their closest challengers. Kayserispor have been the surprise packages of the season with Shota Arveladze guiding them to fourth position in the table.
The debts of Galatasaray are one of the highest in Turkish Football but according to chairman Adnan Polat, the debt is of a 'manageable size within the SuperLig'. When vying for the votes of club members to become chairman, his rival candidate Adnan Ozturk criticised Polat's financial management and claimed that Cim Bom were in over £200m worth of debt back in December 2009 and that the club was losing substantial amounts of money under Polat's term as chairman.
Ozturk said: “When we announced our candidacy, the management announced that they would not sell Riva. And with that, we saw one result of our candidacy. We do not plan on selling one square meter of Galatasaray land. The club lost $135 million in two years. We need to cut waste without preventing sportive success.”
Only last month, the company who deal with the commercial operations of Galatasaray's football team were slapped with a tax bill of around £30m. Current chairman of Galatasaray Adnan Polat was chairman of Galatasaray Sport and Football Management A.Ş for four years.
The 'Gheorghe Hagi Revolution' will move up a gear as the January transfer window allows the Turkish giants to flex their financial muscles in hope that they can improve on their current league position. The bar was set early by rivals Besiktas who added a trio of Portuguse stars to their squad early in the month. Simao signed for £7m and a penned two-and-a-half year deal with Besiktas. He was joined by Hugo Almeida who cost around £2m from Werder Bremen and Manuel Fernandes joined from Valencia on a loan deal. Hagi has added 2 new players so far in Colin Kazim Richards from Fenerbahce and Juan Culio from Romanian side Cluj who joined in a £2.5m deal.
Hagi's return has proved a popular one within Aslanlar and alongside assistant Tugay Kerimoglu they have set their sights on a Europa League position this season with long-term aims of securing the number one position in Turkish Football. From a sensational treble win under Fatih Terim in 99/00 and dominance under Mircea Lucescu to woeful league finishes such as 6th in 2004, 5th in 2009 and the 9th position this season has made supporting Galatasaray seem like an endless roller coaster through the past 10 years.
The end of an era will come on Tuesday 11th January 2011 when Galatasaray will take to the field for the final time at the Ali Sami Yen before moving to their new ground later in the month.